For those who hoped against hope that Trump could be kept out of office, the time to fight his election is now at an end, and the time to begin the real political work America needs has arrived.
And whatever is to be said about Trump, his presidency will be one where new political coalitions are possible and likely influential. Right and left, his foes ought to take heart. He is a Washington, D.C., novice who needs to establish some track record of success. Even in his comfort zone, he much prefers cutting deals and notching victories to simply stonewalling. His base of power is small, shifting and potentially unreliable -- characteristics President Barack Obama found among his own voters.
Nevertheless, too many of Trump's opponents still see him as someone who must be repudiated and rebuked at every turn. Cooler heads will have to prevail over those who reveled so desperately in fantasies of saving the country by stopping Trump at the electoral goal line.
Trump comes into office with an unusual set of weaknesses and liabilities -- from the popular vote to Russia to his sprawling businesses. But that can't justify grinding America's political and economic progress to a halt, the likely result of reflexively blocking Trump's proposals and sapping energy in an effort to hobble his administration. Trump's supporters, opponents and those in between have a patriotic obligation to tackle the country's structural challenges, not just to talk about it.
The American people are in a mood to demand results. Presidents Obama and George W. Bush left the U.S. strong enough for what is to come but weak enough to have left Trump with a daunting list of major tasks.
Americans know our infrastructure and energy needs must not only be met but well-exceeded to set the economy on a sounder footing and maintain our primacy on the world stage. Immigration law has been neglected for so long that its illegitimacy has begun to bleed over quickly into other regulatory realms, such as health care. Whatever the particular outcome, rules must be redrawn with clear, authoritative lines. Economic activity is concentrated too strongly in enterprises where only experts in speculation can participate and profit. Trump can't fix these things alone. Disgruntled Republicans and Democrats must help.
Until they do, with problems as deep as today's, popular frustration will continue to vent itself on smaller struggles, such as identity politics and political correctness. Although there are real issues at stake here as well, the fruitless vitriol and exhausting performances surrounding them will only make it harder to focus on ensuring a dynamic but stable future over the next several generations, while huge global and technological changes will continue to whipsaw the beleaguered American people.
Elected officials must join with Trump on enough fundamental reforms that where the typical inevitable disagreements remain, we will continue to enjoy the privilege of our cherished political disagreements.
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ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER